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Donation to Support Intern

  • 1.  Donation to Support Intern

    Posted 11-08-2019 11:52 AM
    Happy Friday listers!

    I have a situation hoping you can help with. We have a donor whose son would like to intern with our organization. We cannot have any unpaid interns so the father was planning on either making a donation that will be used to pay for his son's salary. The other option was to have one of his friends make a donation to support his son's salary. I'd love to get your thoughts on this one. From my days in higher ed, I know this would be a no no when it comes to scholarships but this situation is a little difference.

    Thank you in advance!
    Lisbeth Fernandez
    AVP, Development Services
    Moffitt Cancer Center

    Lisbeth Fernandez
    AVP. Development Services
    Moffitt Cancer Center

  • 2.  RE: Donation to Support Intern

    Posted 11-08-2019 12:01 PM



    He can give the money to your organization, and your organization can use the money to pay his son, but he cannot claim it as a charitable gift.



    Bill Wong
    Manager of Giving Operations
    Savannah College of Art and Design ®

    office: 404.253.6081 /

    SCAD40: Forty Creative Years

    SCAD: The University for Creative Careers ®
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  • 3.  RE: Donation to Support Intern

    Posted 11-08-2019 12:49 PM
    To add to Bill's point, the reason he can't claim it as a donation is because the IRS doesn't consider gifts that are going to one or a small group of known people as charitable.

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    Isaac Shalev
    CRM Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151

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  • 4.  RE: Donation to Support Intern

    Posted 11-08-2019 12:50 PM
    Doesn't that feel like the donor is purchasing the position for their family member?  That feels like a big red flag for a conflict of interest and just overall yucky. Would you hire this intern, and this person for the internship, if it weren't for the parent's money?  Do you have an independent interview and selection process to decide on the best candidate for the internship, regardless of the parent's purchasing power?  I'm no HR expert, but those would seem like important protections to have in place, besides potentially putting your office in a weird relationship with this donor if you accept their "payment" for their child's position.  Uff da.

     Gwen Donev

    Director of Advancement Services

    Gustavus Adolphus College

    800 West College Avenue

    Saint Peter, Minnesota 56082



    Office:  507.933.6515

  • 5.  RE: Donation to Support Intern

    Posted 11-08-2019 01:26 PM

    Agreed that this is not a charitable contribution, since the donor would be specifying the recipient.


    Since there wouldn't be a charitable contribution, the proposed arrangement may just go away.  If it doesn't, you might still want to tread carefully. 


    On the one hand, the proposed arrangement wouldn't take funding away from anyone else, since otherwise there wouldn't be the additional support. 


    On the other hand, an internship is a valuable experience, one that might advantage the intern in applying for a job down the road, etc.  I infer from your comment "we cannot have any unpaid interns" that you do have an internship program, and the proposed arrangement might be seen as trading on the reputation of that program, for a participant that did not go through the usual process.  In addition, there have been conversations in the wider community over the last few years about opportunities like internships, with, for example, concern expressed that unpaid internships provide advantages to people whose socio-economic status makes it possible for them to accept an unpaid position. The considerations in the proposed arrangement might be seen as subject to a similar concern, because the opportunity is only available because the parent (or parent's friends) would be underwriting the position, in this case directly by paying your organization rather than indirectly by providing living expenses, etc.  In addition, there may be specific or general policies or practices at your organization that would apply to the proposed arrangement.


    So, 1) no charitable contribution and 2) maybe tread carefully.


    My US$0.02 worth; the usual disclaimers apply.


    Good luck!




    Alan S. Hejnal   

    Data Quality Manager

    Smithsonian Institution - Office of Advancement

    600 Maryland Ave SW Ste 600E

    PO Box 37012, MRC 527

    Washington, DC 20013-7012

    Voice: 202-633-8754 | Email:                                                                                                                                            




  • 6.  RE: Donation to Support Intern

    Posted 11-08-2019 12:52 PM
    There is no difference here other than it is not a scholarship.  The money still benefits a specific individual.  Therefore, per IRS Publication 526 there is no tax-deductible gift.


    John H. Taylor
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987